A diverse and imaginative selection of works from the long tradition of devotional poetry in English
Before the Door of God traces the development of devotional English-language poetry from its origins in ancient hymnody to its current twenty-first-century incarnations. The poems in this volume demonstrate not only that devotional poetry—poetry that speaks to the divine—remains in vigorous practice but also that the tradition reaches back to the very origins of poetry in English.
Featuring the work of poets over a three-thousand-year period, Before the Door of God places the devotional lyric in its cultural, historical, and aesthetic contexts. The volume traces the various influences on this tradition and identifies features that persist in devotional lyric poetry across centuries, cultures, and stylistic differences. To scholars, literary professionals, and general readers who find delight in fine poetry, this anthology offers much to contemplate and discuss.
Jay Hopler (1970–2022) taught at the University of South Florida. His poetry collection Still Life was a finalist for the 2023 Pulitzer Prize. Kimberly Johnson is professor of English at Brigham Young University.
“[Before the Door of God] may in some small way help to restore your faith in the dignity and gravity of poetry. And that, dear reader, is no mean accomplishment.”—David Wojahn, Kenyon Review
“The moments in which we reach for prayer [are] the moments in which this book becomes indispensable. Johnson and Hopler are expert curators, and the book they have made is for anyone interested in the questions we ask when there aren’t any immediate answers.”—Luke Johnson, Marginalia Review of Books
“Crucial. . . . Spans the entirety of the English poetry canon. . . . It is difficult to imagine English poetry without the stunningly memorable devotional poetry included in this book. . . . Groundbreaking.”—Philip Metres, Cleveland Plain Dealer
“A beautifully produced volume . . . designed for pleasurable reading. Brief but thought-provoking essays introduce each section, and cogent headnotes introduce each author.”—David Danoff, Tikkun
“This rich and unique compendium of poetry will delight those interested in traditional English poems of devotion, in the ancient roots of the tradition, and in contemporary devotional poets who may be less familiar. . . . The surprises in this collection are manifold.”—J. P. Baumgaertner, Choice Runner-up for the 2014 Great Southeast Book Festival in the Poetry category
Winner of the 2014 USA Best Book Awards in the Religion/General category
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